After Midnight

Published Jul 11, 2014 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 13 Contributors

    13 photos selected by

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers
    • 0

    The Boulder River in Montana roars through the night - cascading from the Beartooth Mountains - a...

    #boulder_river #montana

    Our heartfelt thanks to the Your Shot community for submitting so many wonderful photographs. Your interpretations of After Midnight were original and inspiring. The diverse range of subject matter, vantage point, light, and imagination brought huge smiles to our faces as we viewed your images.

    Whenever we're on assignment for National Geographic magazine we're often greeted by people who remark, “I would love to be a National Geographic photographer.” That was the impetus for this Your Shot assignment: Here was your chance to be on assignment for National Geographic.

    The conditions aren't always ideal, the weather doesn't always cooperate, the light is never what you envisioned—but on a professional assignment, you still need to come home with the goods.

    We applaud everyone who confronted the challenge of making images in the wee hours, and especially for the patience you utilized in problem solving, in “working a picture” until you got it right.

    From roughly 11pm until a bit after 1am local time, I shot nearly 400 20 second exposures of the ...

    #night #time #church #rural #milkyway #stars #southdakota #startrails #space

    Editor's Note

    This photograph is beautiful in the way that The Milky Way cuts the path of the star trails in half, and how it rises from the glowing church. However, what draws us back to this picture again and again is a metaphor about the heavens and spirituality.

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers

    It's 2:04 a.m. and the rain would not stop. Let's find out what it is all about.

    #lookoutside #jump #summer #selfportrait #portrait #rain #travel #after_midnight #blackandwhite

    Note: We received thousands of pictures from people’s archives instead of the requested new pictures made “on assignment." This was the case especially in the first few days of the assignment.

    So many of these images were great, a true inspiration to us and the viewers alike. In the published piece we remained true to the instructions, and only chose new images. However, the National Geographic Your Shot team is allowing us to publish some of our favorite archive images in an upcoming Your Shot blog post.

    Fireflies competing with the stars in creating the most peaceful atmosphere I have ever lived her...

    #startrail #night #lights #fireflies #marche #stars #italy #longexposure #green #nature

    From the darkness she pirouette from the backstage of a show.

    #blue #skirt #portrait #legs #boots

    Every editor has different likes and prejudices. We are no different. We are drawn to images that do not use technology as a crutch and tend not to choose overly gimmicky pictures.

    We prefer images that have meaning, tell a story, or utilize metaphor—those that stretch our sensibilities as photographers. We love to be dazzled, and we love to be shocked.

    In speaking about pictures John Szarkowski, former curator of photography at MoMA, said, “They show us differently what we thought we knew.”

    An After Midnight assignment is tough with work all week. It's a Friday night and we don't reall...

    #tattoo #mother #yourshot #sepia #portrait #son #beauty #child #black_and_white #mom #yourshotbook

    Editor's Note

    This photograph is suffused with tenderness and love. The sepia toning lends itself well to the dreamy quality of the image.

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers

    What do we love most about photographing after midnight? We've learned to embrace the unknown, the darkness, and how strange it can look. The poet Emily Dickinson wrote about a visit to a cemetery: “Instinct picking up the key dropped by memory.” The night is about instinct—and it is about trust. It is mysterious, magical, often surreal, but mostly dark.

    You simply can’t see everything out there, and you have to make a leap of faith and trust your intuition and instinct. Especially in the dark, the camera can “see” what the human eye cannot.

    I went out to test my new UWA lens, but it seemed that taking pictures were ruined by arriving st...

    #apocalypse #clouds #light #flash

    Editor's Note

    Some pictures are so strange and mysterious, they instantly appeal to a sixth sense. The elements that comprise this picture are actually quite simple – and if this picture were made by the light of day it might not be all that interesting. However, at night those simple elements resonate with a surreal n... More

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers

    A street artist is caught vandalizing the Berlin Wall, with her shadow being her sole accomplice ...

    #germany #berlin #dark #grafitti #hands #street #paint #midnight #vandalize #wall #art

    One of my all time favorite pass times - exploring atlas/world map. I plugged the Atlas in, start...

    #portraits #night #letsexplore #portrait #atlas #people #after_midnight #midnight #globe

    Editor's Note

    In this picture, our eyes are first drawn to the spinning globe. Then we discover the warm soft glow falling onto the man, bringing him out of all that darkness. In particular we marvel at the dreamy glint in his eye. The photograph contains a well-executed conceptual narrative – as we imagine his mind i... More

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers

    Sometimes your walk home turns into a quest and a project. That happened to me soon after I took ...

    #sleep #aftermidnight #street #nyc #light #people #black_and_white #thewalk #blackandwhite

    Editor's Note

    This image captures a poignant slice of the city after midnight. The word bus “shelter” will never be the same again. The poster seen behind the sleeping man, with the words “We’re Still Here” and “Leftovers” articulate the story as beautifully as the light that bathes the street.

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers

    My son got to stay up late to help his Dad find a subject matter. Not often does he stay up this ...

    #night #after_mid_night #myson

    The skeletons of ancient bristlecone giants reach for the heavens as a burning meteor skims acros...

    #meteors #astronomy #night #colorado #pines #trees #cosmos #stars #bristlecones

    The best photography answers no questions, but asks many. We adore pictures that tell a story—but even more important, we love pictures that suggest a narrative. Ambiguity in a photograph is sometimes better than clarity, for it lets the imagination run wild.

    Many of you seemed quite adept at photographing in low-light conditions, while others were working through the challenges for the first time. We want to applaud all of you who left your comfort zone behind and took a real chance. It’s not easy going out on a limb—especially after midnight.

    I've learned a lot doing this assignment and tried out some new things that have pushed me out of...

    #sun #lady #night #portrait #clouds #tundra #light #sky #midnight #alaska #sunset #arctic

    Editor's Note

    We had many midnight sun pictures submitted – but none as good as this one in Alaska. This image does what a good picture should – it makes us want to be in that moment.

    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers

    About the Editor
    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
    National Geographic Photographers
    Diane Cook and Len Jenshel are two of America's foremost landscape photographers, exploring issues of beauty, boundary, culture, and the control of nature. They were married in 1983 and began collaborating in 1990. They have worked for many magazines, published numerous books, and are the recipients of many prestigious awards ...